September 12, 2014 11:30 AM
Scientists have given us a look at what they believe was the planet's first semi-aquatic dinosaur - or at least their idea of what the creature called Spinosaurus looked like.
The dinosaur spent part of its life living and hunting in the waters that covered northern Africa 95 million years ago - a 15-meter-long, semi-aquatic giant even bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex.
The first Spinosaurus aegyptiacus fossils were found in Egypt more than a century ago. Using newly discovered fossils from the Sahara desert in Morocco, CT scans and digital reconstructions, an international team of researchers was able to create an anatomically precise, life-size, 3-D replica of its skeleton, revealing previously unknown aquatic adaptations.
Spinosaurus had small nostrils in the middle of its skull, which allowed it to breathe when part of its head was under water. Its long neck and short powerful hind legs made it agile in the water, but unlikely to walk upright on land like other predatory dinosaurs. The researchers propose it may have had webbed feet for walking on the soft mud of riverbanks.
埃及棘龍化石(fossil)在一百年前就在埃及被發現。國際研究團隊利用摩洛哥沙哈拉沙漠最新發現的化石、電腦斷層掃描(CT scan)與數位重建技術，創造出解剖學上(anatomically) 精確的、一比一大小的 (life-size) 3D骨架副本(replica)，顯示出棘龍之前不為人知，在有水環境的適應性改變 (adaptation)。
棘龍的頭蓋骨(skull)中有小的呼吸孔(nostril)，所以當棘龍頭部沉在水裡時仍能呼吸。棘龍的長頸和有力的後腿(hind leg)讓水中的動作很靈敏(agile)，但卻也可能無法像其他捕食性的(predatory)恐龍一樣，在陸地上直立(upright)行走。研究人員認為，也許棘龍的腳是有蹼的(webbed feet)，所以他們能夠在河岸(riverbank)的軟泥上行走。
Its back was topped with a sail-like structure of bony spines seven feet (two
meters) tall and connected by skin. It stuck out of the water as Spinosaurus waded and swam after prey like sharks, car-size fish and crocodilians.
"The animal is unlike any other predatory dinosaur. There's no blueprint for it. There's no modern-day equivalent for it. It's looking at a completely new kind of animal," said University of Chicago paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, who led the study published in the journal Science.
Spinosaurus terrorized a vast North African river system from Morocco to Egypt. It may not have been agile on land, Ibrahim said, but occasionally may have taken down other dinosaurs.
"Its snaggle-tooth snout, sickle-shaped claws and monstrous sail give this beast a bizarre profile, one that will be immediately recognized by every kid on our planet," added University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno, who also participated.
Spinosaurus, more than three meters longer than the largest known T. rex, is the second giant dinosaur announced this month. The fossilized remains of the 26-meter-long Dreadnoughtus were found in southern Argentina, and described last week by scientists from Drexel University.
棘龍稱霸橫行(terrorize)於摩洛哥到埃及一帶廣闊的北非水系。研究人員認為，也許棘龍在陸地上並不靈活，但可能偶爾還是能擒倒其他恐龍。(編按：terrorize是「威脅，讓人心生恐懼」的意思，常用結構是terrorize someone into doing something，意思是「迫使某人去做某件事」。從新聞中來看，棘龍在這個區域是處於食物鏈頂端，其存在威脅到其它的生物，別的物種在棘龍的活動區域中看到都要退避三舍，故此新聞中譯為「稱霸、橫行」。)
棘龍身長比暴龍(T. rex; tyrannosaurus rex)多三公尺，是本月所公佈的第二大恐龍。在阿根廷南部發現的「無畏龍」 (Dreadnoughtus) 的石化骨骸(fossilized remains) 更達二十六公尺長，上週由卓克所大學的科學家描述其外貌。(編按：無畏龍的取名是源自二十世紀初的戰艦「無畏號」(dreadnought)。細看這名字的話可以發現是由 “dread” (害怕) 跟 “naught” (零，空無一物) 兩個字組成的，就是「什麼都不怕」的意思。
anatomically (adv) 解剖學上XXanatomy (n) 解剖學
replica (n) 複製品 xxxxxxx*nnn nostril (n) 鼻孔
agile (a) 輕快的，敏捷的 xxccccupright (adv) 挺直地；垂直
predatory (a) 會捕獵的XXXXX*predator (n) 食肉動物；掠奪者
upright (adv) 挺直地；垂直xxxxequivalent (n) 相同物
terrorize (v) 恐嚇；脅迫xxxxx*sickle (n) 鐮刀 sickle (n) 鐮刀
bizarre (a) 奇異的、古怪的*xxx profile (n) 形象，外觀
Check your vocabulary!
Fill in the blanks with a word or phrase from the list above. Make necessary changes. After you finish, select the text below to reveal the hidden answers.
1. Offspring are not exact replicas of their parents.
2. The river was full but we managed to wade across.
3. Predatory fish are often key components of lake ecosystems.
4. He had drunk the equivalent of 15 whiskies.
5. He was physically strong and mentally agile.
6. Street gangs have been terrorizing the neighborhood.